Here are some FAQs:
What is Nominet’s DRS?
If your domain name dispute concerns a UK domain name (e.g., .co.uk, .uk, .org.uk), then you may be able to recover the domain name under an arbitration procedure called the Dispute Resolution Service, also known as the DRS, set up and operated by the UK internet naming authority Nominet UK. This procedure is automatically included in the contract when someone registers a .uk domain name.
What do you have to prove under the DRS?
To succeed with a Nominet UK DRS complaint, you have to prove to the DRS “Independent Expert” (i.e. adjucator):
First, that you have “rights” in a name which is identical or similar to the domain name. You can rely on both unregistered and registered trade marks. Unregistered trademarks are also known as “common law rights” and are based on reputation and goodwill acquired in a particular name arising from its use such that it has become distinctive of the complainant. It’s not enough just to assert this. You have to provide sufficient supporting evidence.
Second, that the domain name is an “abusive registration”. This can relate either to the circumstances in which the domain name was registered or in which it was used (unlike under the UDRP for .com and other gTLD domain names which requires registration and use in bad faith). Nominet’s DRS policy lists non-exhaustive examples of factors which may be evidence that a domain name is (or is not) an abusive registration. Each case will be different but as domain name solicitors we know that, whatever the circumstances, you have to provide sufficient detail and supporting documents to establish abusive registration. Otherwise the DRS case will fail.
What’s the timescale?
Typically from six to ten weeks. Plus another few weeks to implement the transfer, if granted.
Is there an appeal?
Yes. Unlike most other similar domain dispute schemes, Nominet provides an option for the losing party to appeal to a panel of three independent experts. But, as mentioned below, it’s not cheap and is rarely used!
Are previous Nominet decisions relevant?
Though previous Nominet DRS decisions are not binding on a Nominet expert, they are persuasive – particularly Nominet appeal panel decisions. Familiarity with these can give a good indicator of whether a case is likely to succeed and it helps to cite previous relevant / favourable decisions in DRS submissions by either side.
What are the DRS fees?
At the time of writing, unlike most similar procedures, there are no fees to filing a DRS complaint. Once the submissions are complete, Nominet conducts a telephone mediation. If that doesn’t resolve the case, then the complainant can pay Nominet a fee of £750 plus VAT to obtain a decision by an independent expert. If there’s no response, there’s no mediation and the the complainant can opt to pay just £200 plus VAT for a “summary decision”. The appeal fee is £3,000 plus VAT, payable by the appealing party. These official fees don’t include any legal costs involved in preparing complaints / responses / appeals.
What result can be achieved?
If you file a successful Nominet DRS complainant, you can normally expect to obtain transfer of the domain name in dispute but you can’t be awarded damages or costs under this procedure.